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Stephen Lawrence inquiry: CCTV witness plea over racist murder



Detectives investigating the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 have issued a CCTV image of a witness they want to trace.

The still shows a man wearing a jacket with a distinctive "V" on it, in an off-licence near the bus stop where the murder took place hours later.

Despite previous Met Police appeals the man has never been identified.

Stephen, 18, was murdered by a group of six white youths in an unprovoked attack, in Eltham, south-east London.



Stephen Lawrence (13 September 1974 – 22 April 1993) was a Black British man from Eltham, south east London, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April 1993. 







The case became a cause célèbre and one of the highest profile racial killings in UK history; its fallout included profound cultural changes to attitudes on racism and the police, and to the law and police practice, and the partial revocation of double jeopardy laws, before two of the perpetrators were convicted almost 20 years later in 2012.


After the initial investigation, five suspects were arrested but not convicted. It was suggested during the course of that investigation that the murder was racially motivated and that Lawrence was killed because he was black, and that the handling of the case by the police and Crown Prosecution Service was affected by issues of race. A public inquiry was held in 1998, headed by Sir William Macpherson, that examined the original Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) investigation and concluded that the force was "institutionally racist". It also recommended that the double jeopardy rule should be abrogated in murder cases to allow a retrial upon new and compelling evidence; this became law in 2005 with the passage of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The publication in 1999 of the resulting Macpherson Report has been called 'one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain'. Jack Straw, Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001, commented in 2012 that ordering the inquiry was "the single most important decision I made as Home Secretary". In 2010 the case was described as being "one of the highest-profile unsolved racially-motivated murders".

On 18 May 2011, following a cold case review, it was announced that two of the original suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were to stand trial for the murder in the light of "new and substantial evidence" becoming available. At the same time it was disclosed that Dobson's original acquittal had been quashed by the Court of Appeal, allowing a retrial to take place.[10] Such an appeal had only become possible following the 2005 change in the law, although Dobson was not the first person to be retried for murder as a result. On 3 January 2012, Dobson and Norris were found guilty of Lawrence's murder; the pair were juveniles at the time of the crime and were sentenced to detention at Her Majesty's pleasure, equivalent to a life sentence for an adult, with minimum terms of 15 years 2 months and 14 years 3 months respectively for what the judge described as a "terrible and evil crime".

In the years after Dobson and Norris were sentenced, the case again regained prominence when concerns of corrupt police conduct during the original case handling surfaced in the media. Such claims had surfaced before, and been investigated in 2006, but were reignited in 2013 when a former undercover police officer stated in an interview that at the time, he had been pressured to find ways to "smear" and discredit the victim's family, to mute and deter public campaigning for better police responses to the case. Although further inquiries in 2012 by both Scotland Yard and the Independent Police Complaints Commission had ruled that there was no basis for further investigation, Home Secretary Theresa May ordered an independent inquiry into undercover policing and corruption by a prominent QC, which was described as "devastating" when published in 2014. An inquiry into whether members of the police force shielded the alleged killers was set up in October 2015.


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